Brakes on Kids' Bikes

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Brakes on Kids' Bikes

Postby wa_desert_rat » Sun Feb 06, 2011 1:12 pm

The 9-year-old girl across the street is resisting any attempts I make to get her onto a "better" bike than the pink Barbie bike she's riding now. It's frustrating for me because she's a maniac on a bike and is always in the lead with her little legs just a blur on those pedals. If I could just get her to try something better... but something better doesn't have a coaster brake.

That transition from a coaster brake to a caliper (or disc) brakes is a tough one to make. My little blonde friend tried a BMX-style bike with caliper brakes and crashed because her instinct to brake by back-pedaling failed; now she won't consider trying it again.

So I'm trying logic... after all a coaster brake only works on one wheel - the rear wheel. If that isn't stopping you then you can try dragging your feet or bail off but if you have a front brake then you have the advantage of TWO wheels braking. Of course, that has its problems too.

I'm not a good role model because when I was a kid there were no other types of brakes other than coaster. Until the very late 1950s when the 3-speed "English Racer" bikes came on the scene every kid rode a bike with a coaster brake. There was nothing more fun than going as fast as you could and then throwing the bike sideways while simultaneously standing on that back pedal... the resulting skid was wonderful. But I graduated to caliper brakes eventually (in my 20s) and I was better off for it.

So I will keep working on it. I have lots of incentive. It's pretty embarrassing to be riding my mountain bike while a 9-year-old blonde girl races ahead of me on a little pink Barbie bike. Maybe I'm better off. If she gets a better bike I might not be able to keep up with her at all.

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Re: Brakes on Kids' Bikes

Postby bones72751 » Thu Mar 24, 2011 11:08 pm

If she's 9, she should be able to handle a 20" by mow I think. Walmart has several 20" bikes with both hand brakes, and also a coaster to fall back on. I say when a birthday comes up just get her one with both and she will have the coaster brake, but also get experience with levers.
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Re: Brakes on Kids' Bikes

Postby wa_desert_rat » Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:07 am

Yup... we're looking at something. Her birthday is in December so that's not all that great... we may just buy her something and give it to her. I'd like to get her off the coaster completely but I do have some sympathy; I remember the cool skids I could do with my coaster-brake-equipped bigboxbike back when that was the only thing you could get (and the only places you could get them). Just bear down with all your weight on that back pedal and throw the bike to one side and - viola! - a totally cool sliding stop. LOL

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Re: Brakes on Kids' Bikes

Postby RichardR » Tue May 03, 2011 8:54 am

I switched my 8 yr daughter over from a coaster only bike to a coaster + hand brakes last year, I did have to constantly remind her to use her hand brakes in the beginning but she got the hang of them fairly quickly.
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Re: Brakes on Kids' Bikes

Postby crash test dumby » Thu May 05, 2011 1:30 am

Yeah, really looking forward to trying to get my 9 year going with real brakes. He will be 10 in august but just started riding a two wheeler a few weeks ago. My wife drove me crazy for the last four years about "teaching" him to ride a two wheeler. I knew all along there was nothing to teach, when he wanted to ride he would. And a few weeks ago he finally decided, and now he's unstoppable. But he is VERY short and the new Abyss BMX we bought him to reward him for learning (even though we already had a barely used bmx) is actually a little tall (of course the old one fits better but its a hand me down and he wants his own new one that he picked out). I got a KHS Raptor on Ebay, a very nice 20" MTN bike, and it arrives Monday. He's probably not tall enough, even though KHS sais they are for 5-8 year olds, and he's afraid of hand brakes. Guess we'll see when it comes, if he fits yet, and if he's willing to try the hand brakes.
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Re: Brakes on Kids' Bikes

Postby wa_desert_rat » Fri May 06, 2011 1:30 pm

Let me know if you discover an easy way to convert them over to hand brakes because that's the only issue with the kid here. Any ideas are welcome. I'd go with coaster back and hand front except that my guess is she'd simply ignore the hand brake and use the coaster per usual. So it's probably better to just put 'em onto one and then take a few easy trips around the block stopping and starting often.
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Re: Brakes on Kids' Bikes

Postby RichardR » Sat May 07, 2011 9:52 am

Well if they've been riding for any length of time with a coaster brake only bike, their instinctive reaction is going to be to use the coaster brake, especially in an "emergency" type stop setting.

Now since I ride w/my youngest daughter I was able to constantly remind her to use her hand brakes instead of her coaster brake until she sort of got the hang of using them, one of the best lessons came from this huge very steep downhill run at our local park, it's scary to ride down, even for me & requires the rider to be on their brakes hard the whole way down because the trail splits off at a 90 deg angle at the bottom, too much speed and the rider ends up going swimming in the lake.

A couple of times down that & she sort of got the message about how important using both hand brakes vs her coaster brake really is, not sure if there is any trails comparable in your area but that really seemed to drive the point home w/my daughter.
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Re: Brakes on Kids' Bikes

Postby crash test dumby » Sun May 08, 2011 5:01 am

So far so good with my son. First time he took off on the bike, his instinct kicked in when he needed to stop, oops no coaster brakes! Feet down dragging, ouch. But that seemed to do it for him. My only concern now is if he keeps switching between the BMX and the MTB he'll be confused all the time.
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